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O Antiphons: summary

Related threads:
(origins) Origins: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (26)
Antiphon of Dec 19: O radix Jesse (11)
Antiphon of Dec 20: O Clavis David (3)
Antiphon of Dec 21: O Oriens (12)
Antiphon of Dec 17: O Sapientia (6)
Lyr Req: Latin for O Come O Come Emmanuel (20)
Antiphon of Dec 18: O Adonai (2)
Antiphon of Dec 23: O Emmanuel (3)
Antiphon of Dec 22: O Rex gentium (5)


T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 24 Dec 99 - 09:11 AM
Joe Offer 24 Dec 99 - 09:22 PM
Haruo 18 Dec 00 - 01:50 AM
Joe Offer 19 Dec 03 - 05:40 PM
Haruo 08 Dec 04 - 01:41 AM
Joe Offer 20 Dec 05 - 12:44 PM
Joe Offer 14 Dec 06 - 08:28 PM
leeneia 14 Dec 06 - 09:49 PM
Joe Offer 24 Dec 07 - 04:06 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Dec 07 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Dec 07 - 10:17 AM
Joe Offer 25 Dec 07 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Dec 07 - 11:30 PM
Joe Offer 26 Dec 07 - 12:51 AM
GUEST,J. D. Billett 26 Dec 07 - 03:35 PM
George Papavgeris 27 Dec 07 - 12:36 AM
Joe Offer 16 Dec 09 - 06:56 PM
Joe Offer 21 Dec 10 - 04:53 AM
Charmion 21 Dec 10 - 11:43 AM
Joe Offer 22 Dec 10 - 12:57 AM
Charmion 22 Dec 10 - 10:59 AM
Joe Offer 22 Dec 10 - 02:05 PM
Joe Offer 16 Dec 11 - 03:12 AM
Nigel Parsons 16 Dec 11 - 03:56 AM
KHNic 16 Dec 11 - 05:52 PM
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Subject: O Antiphons: summary
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 24 Dec 99 - 09:11 AM

Here is a complete table of the O-Antiphons sung at the Magnificat during vespers in the closing days of Advent:

T.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Dec 99 - 09:22 PM

T., I hadn't realized the relationship of the "O" antiphons until you posted them together. I've been enjoying the challenge of reading the Latin, 30 years after my last Latin class. I still can't remember how to read Gregorian Chant notation, though. I've got two books that explain it, but haven't found the motivation to study them.
Merry Christmas!
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Haruo
Date: 18 Dec 00 - 01:50 AM

Those who like "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (or its Latin original, "Veni, veni Emmanuel") I invite to read my post concerning the O Antiphons that lie behind the hymn. This is the week these antiphons are on the Vespers menu.

Liland


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Dec 03 - 05:40 PM

Here's the entry on O Antiphons from Fr. Richard McBrien's* Encyclopedia of Catholicism: Here's McBrien's definition of Vespers:
    (Latin, "evening star"), or Evening Prayer, the liturgy of the Church celebrated in the early evening as daylight ends. One of the two principle Hours of prayer, Vespers includes a hymn, two psalms and a New Testament canticle, a reading from Scripture (usually the Pauline Letters), a proper responsory, the Magnificat with its antiphon, a litany of intercessory prayer, the Lord's Prayer, a concluding blessing, and dismissal.
Vespers is part of what is now called the Liturgy of the Hours:
    The public prayer of the Church for praising God and sanctifying the day. It is also known as the Divine Office. It consists of an Office of Readings, Morning and Evening Prayer, Daytime Prayer, and Night Prayer.
The Liturgy of the Hours is printed in the Breviary:
    ...The breviary represents a late medieval compilation of several books: the antiphonary or book of short verses (antiphons), psalter or book of psalms, lectionary or book of lessons, martyrology or book of martyrs, and hymnary or book of hymns. It was first fashioned during the eleventh and twelfth centuries to assist the daily prayer of the mendicant orders, whose members could not have been expected to carry such a library on their travels. The breviary contributed to the privatization and clericalization of the Church's daily prayer. It came to be regarded as a book for priests, with the Liturgy of the Hours only for clerics.
From the third century, Christians gathered for prayer in the morning and evening, supplemented by private prayer at rising, at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, upon retiring, and (interrupting sleep) during the night. During the Middle Ages, the number of hours became set at the following: Vespers, Compline, Matins, Lauds, Prime (1), Terce (3), Sext (6), and None (9 - pronounced "known").

I was a student in a Catholic seminary in Milwaukee from 1962-70. In the early years, we'd see our professors walking the halls and the grounds, reading their breviaries in Latin. Priests were required to pray the Divine Office daily, and it took them an hour or two per day. Monks and some nuns recited or chanted the Office together, often in antiphonal style with the the two sides of the chapel chanting alternate lines, back and forth - it really was wonderful to hear this. In my last two years of the seminary (I left 4 years before my remaining classmates were ordained priests), we students prayed morning and evening prayers in this style. There really was something wonderful about it, but I'm glad we didn't do the whole thing. We spent maybe ten minutes in the morning and fifteen at night.

To warm up before evening prayer, we'd gather every evening in the vestibule of the chapel, smoke cigarettes, and sing Engerbert Humperdinck songs. I suppose "Last Waltz" was the most popular pre-prayer song.

In most Catholic parishes nowadays, the Liturgy of the Hours is celebrated only on special occasions, and many priests no longer recite the Divine Office when they aren't praying with others.

-Joe Offer-

*McBrien is considered to be a liberal. Some right-wing Catholics call him a heretic. To me, that means he must be a reasonably credible source.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons — Veni Emmanuel — Esperanto
From: Haruo
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 01:41 AM

I just posted a page explaining the O Antiphons in Esperanto, as well as a new Esperanto version of Veni veni Emmanuel with seven stanzas in the inverse order of the Antiphons (so that when singing the hymn on Christmas Eve one can, in retrospect, view the prophetic acrostic embedded in them, "ERO CRAS"). (The usual Esperanto version has only five stanzas, and not in the canonical order. The two new stanzas are my own translation.)

Incidentally, this is the 499th Esperanto hymn text page in my online hymnal, and with the addition hours later of Ho! Triumfa Pask-tagiĝo (a version of Surrexit Christus hodie) there are now an even 500 in my collection ! (as well as about 100 non-Esperanto texts, roughly half of them in English). If by chance you should need an Esperanto version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" or "By Cool Siloam's Shady Rill", the index by English incipits comes in handy, and this time of year the separate Advent/Christmas/Epiphany list is helpful.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Dec 05 - 12:44 PM

I think it's time to refresh this. Merry Christmas, everyone.
-Joe Offer-
from www.worshipmap.com:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

The verses of the 9th century Latin hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," are derived from the "O ANTIPHONS". These seven great "O's" mark the last week of Advent. One is sung each day until Christmas Eve. They sum up the longing of Advent as they depict the desperate plight of humanity in need of a Savior, and address Christ with seven grand titles, pleading with him to come save his people. The verse we know as the first was actually the last, climactic verse in the series.

In Latin the letters which begin the titles form an acrostic S-A-R-C-O-R-E which when reversed spells ERO CRAS meaning "I shall be there tomorrow". In other words, this is the answer (spoken the day before Christmas!) that echoes back from the One to whom the people call.

Here are the Seven "O" antiphons:

O WISDOM, (Sapientia) who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.

O LORD (Adonai) AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and redeem us with outstretched arm.

O ROOT (Radix) OF JESSE, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come to deliver us, and do not tarry .

O KEY (Clavis) OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts; who shuts and no man opens: come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O DAWN/LIGHT FROM THE EAST (Oriens), brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of Justice: come, and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O KING (Rex) OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

O EMMANUEL, (Emmanuel) God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.


More on the O antiphons:
Scriptures, links
tune and translation

Come Emmanuel : A Study of the Advent Antiphons by William J. Marshall, William Leonard Marshall, William Marshal. Morehouse Publishing Company, 1994.
Chapters include "O Wisdom," "O Adonai," "O Root of Jese," "O Key of David," "O Day-Spring," "O King of Nations," and "O Emmanuel."


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Dec 06 - 08:28 PM

It's almost that time of year.
Happy Christmas, everyone!

Here's an archive of a Website that's no longer available, http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/s-oantiphons.html:

O Antiphons

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

The "O Antiphons" were first used by the Church in the 8th and 9th centuries. They are based on various titles used for the Christ and are scripturally-based short prayers used from the 17th to the 23rd of December. In the Roman Catholic Church they are the antiphons for the Vespers in the Office of the Day. In these "O Antiphons" the Church expresses her deep longing for the coming of the Messiah.

The Advent hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is based on the "O Antiphons" and was written sometime during the 9th Century. The hymn, as can be seen below, begins with the last antiphon.

The Antiphons Advent Hymn Scriptural References Other Sites


The Antiphons

December 17
O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: COME, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen. "O Sapientia..."

December 18

O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: COME, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen. "O Adonai..."

December 19

O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: COME, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen. "O Radix Jesse..."

December 20

O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: COME, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Clavis David..."

December 21

O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice: COME, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Oriens..."

December 22

O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: COME, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen. "O Rex..."

December 23

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: COME to save us, O Lord our God. Amen. "O Emmanuel..."



O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Words: Latin: c. 9th Century
Tr. by John M. Neale
Tr. by Henry S. Coffin

Music: VENI EMMANUEL
Adapted from Plainsong, Mode I
Thomas Helmore
Netmidi is now playing the tune: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."


O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty, and awe.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of peace.

CHORUS: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!



Scripture References

O Wisdom: Proverbs 1:20; 8; 9 and I Corinthians 1:30
O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel: Exodus 3; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6
O Root of Jesse: Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12; Revelation 5:5
O Key of David: Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7
O Dawn of the East (Dayspring): Luke 1:78, 79; Malachi 4:2
O King of the Gentiles (Nations): Revelation 15:3; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:6
O Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Matthew 1:23; Haggai 2:7 (KJV)




Other Sites

Some sites require Real Audio.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: leeneia
Date: 14 Dec 06 - 09:49 PM

I went to the site linked in the first posting, and the version of O Sapientia there was apparently an .rm file.

What sort of song is an .rm file?

Our choir is having a concert this Sunday, and we are doing an absolutely rip-snorting arrangement of O Come O Come Emmanual which has an antiphonal choir and a rich, exciting piano part. We have added a string bass, and we are going to knock their socks off!
    It's a RealMedia file - it's plays on RealPlayer. Just click it and see if it plays.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Dec 07 - 04:06 PM

Well, the time for the O Antiphons ended yesterday, but they're still worth a look. If you study these threads and the background of the O Antiphons, the hymn "O Come Emmanuel" will make a lot more sense to you.
Click here for another page on the O Antiphons.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
-Joe Offer-

An article on the O Antiphons from catholiceducation.org:

    What are the "O Antiphons"?

    Fr. William Rogers

    The "O Antiphons" refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.

    The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

    The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. Let’s now look at each antiphon with just a sample of Isaiah’s related prophecies :

    O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

    O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

    O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”
    Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

    O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, I will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

    O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

    O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4).

    O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” (7:14). Remember “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”

    According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.


     

     



    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

    Saunders, Rev. William. “What are the ‘O Antiphons’?” Arlington Catholic Herald.

    THE AUTHORFather William Saunders is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College and pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Sterling, Virginia. The above article is a "Straight Answers" column he wrote for the Arlington Catholic Herald.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 05:00 AM

This is worth refreshing. Thanks Joe - Merry Christmas!


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 10:17 AM

An antiphon is a response, I think. What are they in response to?


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 04:37 PM

Hi, Leeneia-
According to Richard McBrien's Encyclopedia of Catholicism, and antiphon is
    a short verse, usually from the Bible, sung at the beginning and end of psalms or canticles, or as a refrain between verses...Several antiphons are tied to liturgical processions on special feast days.
But in the days of my youth, "the" antiphon of a Mass was a short verse that was sung or recited at the beginning of Mass, and rarely as a refrain between verses. I believe there was once a psalm with an antiphon at the beginning of Mass, between the scripture readings, and during communion. There is still a psalm between the scripture readings; but the other two psalms were replaced by hymns, athough the vestigial entrance antiphon (introit) and communion antiphon remain as an option, to be sung or recited with or without a psalm or canticle.
"Antiphonal singing" is sung by two choirs, usually alternating verses of a psalm - and may or may not have an antiphon.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 11:30 PM

Thanks, Joe. You said

But in the days of my youth, "the" antiphon of a Mass was a short verse that was sung or recited at the beginning of Mass, and rarely as a refrain between verses.

It seems to me that the sentiments of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel would fit best in an antiphon of that type.

====
Can I just vent a little? It discourages me when I try to learn about early music and authors throw Christian (esp.Catholic)lingo around as if everybody knows all about church services. The Ordinary, the Collect, the Introit, Mass parts, vespers, the Magnificat....

A page linked above throws out the phrase 'liturgical prayer.' What might that be?

It never seems to occur to them that readers might come from a non-Christian country, might never have been to a service, and may not have the least idea of what they are talking about.

So there!


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 12:51 AM

Hi, Leeneia - most Catholics don't know that churchlore stuff. I know it and teach it because I had eight years of Catholic seminary training which spanned the Second Vatican Council, so I learned about what on both before and after that council.

The Mass is both a liturgical and a musical form. Many Masses were written for performance, not for worship - but they follow the same form and texts. In general, compositions for worship are far simpler and less theatrical. It takes a good deal of experience or exploration to understand the context of all these religious terms you speak of - but the stories behind them are often very interesting (and very complex). It you find a piece of music, religious or nonreligious, that intrigues you, it's worth your time to study the context.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: GUEST,J. D. Billett
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 03:35 PM

In reply to Leeneia's query about the liturgical function of the O Antiphons, they are sung with the "Magnificat" (or "Song of Mary" from the first chapter of Luke's Gospel) at Vespers (Evening Prayer) on the days leading up to Christmas -- so not at the Mass (though some parish churches may use "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" at Mass as a congregational hymn). The Magnificat is sung at Vespers every day of the year, but the antiphon that is sung with it varies according to the day of the week, the season of the year, or the particular feast that occurs on a given day.

Oddly enough, antiphons aren't technically "responses". In the early church, there evolved two distinct ways of singing psalms and "canticles" (like the Magnificat): "antiphonally" and "responsorially". Just what these terms meant in Late Antiquity is actually very difficult to recover. It seems that antiphonal singing involved (as in later definitions) alternation between two choirs facing each other, but also the use of a chant called an "antiphon" that functioned as a refrain that was passed somehow between the two sides. Responsorial singing, by contrast, involved the singing of a psalm by a soloist, with the congregation or choir inserting a refrain ("responsory" or "respond") after each verse or after groups of verses. Eventually, antiphonal singing and responsorial singing became virtually indistinguishable in liturgical contexts: both antiphons and responsories are really just refrains sung by the congregation/choir. As a rule, antiphons tend to be fairly simple and responsories tend to be rather more complex (compare the "Introit antiphon" and the "Gradual responsory" in the Gregorian chants that accompany a Roman Catholic Mass), though there are of course exceptions ("Offertory antiphons" are notoriously tricky). And there are blurred boundaries in some historical sources: I've found an eighth-century Anglo-Saxon description of antiphonal singing in which the psalm is sung by a soloist and a chant called an "antiphon" is passed from side to side by two choirs after every verse.

In modern practice, an antiphon is sung before and after a psalm (or, as with the Magnificat, a canticle), and the melody of the antiphon determines the recitation tone to which the psalm itself will be sung.

The Introit antiphon at a Mass is somewhat different: originally it would seem that a whole psalm was sung, but this was eventually (by the ninth century) truncated to a single verse. The Introit antiphon is repeated several times: Antiphon - Verse - Antiphon - Doxology ("Gloria Patri...") - Antiphon.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck as you persevere with the arcane terminology of Christian liturgy!

Jesse


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 12:36 AM

I think I can add a couple of drachmas' worth here. I know little of the Catholic service and the role of antiphons there, but I do know their role in the Orthodox one and have indeed sung the Greek ones in church. They are indeed short verses or even single sentences sung as hymns. The key is in the (Greek word) "antiphon", meaning "singing against" or "counter singing". They alternate indeed, as J.D.Billett summises above, but between the priest and the choir (who represent the populace). In crude translation such antiphons are for example:

priest: For it is due to you every glory, honour and (bow?), to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...
choir: (1st Antiphon) Through the intercedence of Mary, Saviour, save us
priest: For the state, and power, and kingdom, and the glory, are Yours, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, now and forever
choir: (2nd Antiphon)Save us, Son of God, the one who rose from the dead, as we sing to you Halleluia(repeated 3 times)


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:56 PM

Since tomorrow is the first day of the O Antiphons, I thought it was a good time to refresh this. I wish you all a peaceful and joyful season.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 04:53 AM

Time to refresh. I study the "O Antiphons" a little more every year. It's interesting to see how they're structured. They're all based on images from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Each antiphon begins with an invocation to Jesus with a title inspired by the Hebrew Scriptures. Then there's an amplification of that title stating an attribute of God with which humankind has been gifted. The antiphon ends with an appeal which always commences with the invitation, "Come!"

Source: Patricia Datchuck Sanchez, National Catholic Reporter.

Merry Christmas!

-Joe-

    As the days wind down toward Christmas, the business of gifts will be uppermost on the minds of some of us. Unfortunately, this preoccupation will be exacerbated by the last-ditch efforts of a crass commercialism that daily reminds us the countdown. . . “only three more shopping days ’til Christmas!” In an effort to lift the hearts and minds and energies of believers to a more authentic celebration of this season, the church puts before the gathered assembly a sort of “countdown” of its own. Beginning on December 17, one of a series of seven antiphons is sung each day at the Magnificat of the Divine Office. Known as the “O Antiphons” because each begins with the joyful interjection “O”, these special chants enumerate the gifts of God to humankind while “counting down” the days toward Christmas. Because the majority of the people in the pew do not have the time or opportunity to pray the Divine Office, it may prove helpful to familiarize them with these wonderful ancient prayers.

    Similarly structured, each antiphon is comprised of: an invocation to the Messiah with a title inspired by the Hebrew Scriptures; an amplification of that title stating an attribute of God with which humankind has been gifted; and an appeal which always commences with the invitation, “Come!” While the titles of Christ can be traced to prayers written by Pope St. Damascus in the mid-fourth century C.E., the antiphons, as such, have been accredited to an anonymous cantor who lived in the late seventh or early eighth century C.E.

    As each antiphon is prayed, believers are reminded that the most important gifts of this season are the ones that God alone can give:

    December 17: O Wisdom, O Holy Word of God, you tend to all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come, show your people the way to salvation.

    December 18: O Lord and Leader of Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush and who gave him the law of life, come with outstretched arms to save us.

    December 19: O Root of Jesse, raised up as a saving sign for all peoples. Come, without delay.

    December 20: O Key of David who opens and no one closes, Come, open the gates of death and lead your captive people from the darkness into freedom.

    December 21 (solstice): O Morning Star and Sun of Justice, radiant dawn and splendor of eternal light. Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

    December 22: O King of all and joy of every human heart, Come and save all whom you have made.

    December 23: O Emmanuel, God-with-us, Come and set us free.

    Scholars have determined that the inverse order of the initials of each invocation (Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, Emmanuel) constitute the acrostic ERO CRAS. This has been interpreted as the response of Christ to the faithful who have daily called out to him: “Tomorrow I shall be there!”


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Charmion
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 11:43 AM

The ecclesiastical composer Healey Willan ("English by birth, Canadian by adoption, Irish by extraction, Scotch by absorption") made a wonderful faux-bourdon arrangement of the "O" antiphons that is in regular use in Anglo-Cat churches in Canada. I've sung it myself several times; it's quite spooky.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 12:57 AM

Any chance it's been recorded, Charmion? How did he title it?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Charmion
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 10:59 AM

Hi, Joe:

I went googling for Healey Willan and found the following paragraph in a document dating from the late 1980s, posted in MS Word format.

"In addition to the music provided for these antiphons in the Roman chant books, the only generally available choral settings of the Great O Antiphons were the settings for four-part choir (SATB) written by Healey Willan and published by Concordia Publishing House in the late 1950s. These settings have long been out of print. With the appearance of Lutheran Book of Worship in 1978 and Lutheran Worship in 1982, these great texts now have an official place in the Advent Propers for Evening Prayer. They are given in both LBW and LW in new translations common to all Lutherans in North America."

The doc goes on to promote the publication in 1985 by Concordia of the Willan antiphons in a new version edited by Carl Schalk and "carefully adapted to the new translations appearing in both LBW [Lutheran Book of Worship] and LW [Lutheran Worship]."

From their tattered condition, the copies used by the choir I used to sing with were certainly from the original publication.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 02:05 PM

Thanks, Charmion. I ordered a copy of Lutheran Worship.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 03:12 AM

Refresh. A little chant is good for the soul. Click here for an archived program on the O Antiphons from National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
Hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com has lots of information on the antiphons.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 03:56 AM

That's it, Joe,
Take your chantses when you can.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: KHNic
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 05:52 PM

I remember singing the O antiphons during my time as a chorister in a catholic - as opposed to Roman Catholic - cathedral. They always added to the anticipation of the approaching mystery of Christmas.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Dec 12 - 09:47 PM

The O Antiphons start Monday, so I thought today would be a nice day to refresh them. I notice that Wikipedia has a very nice article on the subject. An excerpt:
    Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

      December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
      December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
      December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
      December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
      December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
      December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
      December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

    In the Roman Catholic tradition in which they originated, the O Antiphons are sung or recited at Vespers (official Evening Prayer) from December 17 to December 23 inclusive.


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Dec 14 - 05:55 AM

Okiemockingbird did a lot of work on his study of these antiphons, way back in 1999. I think it's worthwhile to refresh this thread this time of year.
Merry Christmas!

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 15 - 01:13 AM

Okiemockingbird did a lot of work on his study of these antiphons, way back in 1999. I think it's worthwhile to refresh this thread this time of year.
Merry Christmas!

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: O Antiphons: summary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Dec 16 - 05:37 PM

Good time to refresh this thread. Much has been written about these seven antiphons, but their origins are still unclear to me. Happy Christmas, everyone.
-Joe-


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